ARC preamp line up

Just getting into ARC preamps and while i was hesitant to jump on an SP5, I have to admit I am thrilled about the soundstage and detail. I thought I was going to have issues with it being too analytical or bright but turns out I really like the boot it has a phono for my LP12.

I also know that the Sp5 seems to have little or no praise and is probably one of the cheaper models, but having said that, it sounds so good to me.

So my question is, what is the next step up from this model in terms of solid state and if I go to the earlier models (read below $1K) with/without the single 6922 tube do I lose anything that I like with my SP5? From my research I guess i should only be looking at the SP series for phono or do some of the LS models come with phono?

thx for your input
LS = line stage. No phono.
Still one of my favorite ARC preamps is the SP9MKII, (or MKIII). These use (2) tubes and have an excellent phono stage.
ARC SP-11.
First, you mention solid state. While the SP-5 was a solid state pre-amp, none of the later SP series were; all were tubed. Looking at later SP-series pre-amps, the SP-9 had two tubes, the SP-14 had three, and all the others had more. So there really isn't a solid-state ARC step-up in the line.

I had an SP-8 for many years, and used the built-in phono stage with my Linn LP12 as well. I thought it was a good unit, but when I upgraded to an LS17 (line stage, no phono section) and a PH5 phono section, it was a significant improvement all around (i.e. the LS17 sounded better than the SP-8, and the PH5 sounded better than the SP-8 phono section). Also, all of the older SP pre-amps were pretty high gain, which made using them with a CD player problematic, since the CD player already has a high input voltage relative to other inputs.
Hifigeek1, pretty sure you'll still spend way more than a grand for an SP-11.
An ARC SP-11 is going to cost more than a thousand bucks.
Same for the SP-15.. Another two chassis preamp.
(I own an SP-15 currently)
For more than the thousand, Like $1,500 to $1,800 you should be able to aquire an Sp-11 or Sp-15
The SP-11 has a few tubes in it. The SP-15 is all Solid state EXCEPT the phono section, which uses three tubes.
I can highly recommend the Audio Research SP-15.
It should cost no more than $1,700 though. (closer to $1,500) Even if it did retail for $6 grand new.
(the original sets of boxes for those two chassis preamps are worth a hundred bucks all by themselves)

The Sp-9 mk3 is a good preamp, but not up to the later SP11 or 15.
The SP-10 is a classic, and commands a fortune used, (over $3,000) plus you have to spend ANOTHER fortune for great tubes (13 tubes in the Sp-10, and i owned a SP-10 and the Sp-15 trounced the Sp-10 IMO)
All the SP-10. SP-11. And SP-15 were two chassis preamps
I owned an SP5 for many years and it was okay but the Analog Module technology (shared w/ the SP4) was not a sonic high water mark for ARC. By comparison the SP6 (all tube) was a contemporary of the SP5/SP4 and an overall much better offering. If you want to go all tube around the $1K mark an SP6 would be a good choice and it can be upgraded substantially if you get an original 6 or 6A which would sell for less than the later 6B through C/D/E variants.
Actually the SP14 has only (1) tube. It's a very nice unit also, but over your budget by a little. Also, the SP7 was the solid state replacement for the SP5. The LS9, LS10 and LS12 were solid state line stages. I was an ARC dealer for many years.
I guess what surprised me was how I fell in love with the solid state when I had my mind up that tube was the way to go...always liked tubes. Having said that, I dont have to go tube, but certainly will if price is right.

Is the Sp7 of the same cloth of the SP5? Am I wasting my time and $$ looking for one or should I focus on the models mentioned if I can find one below $1K ?

I keep seeing the SP9 mk1/2/3 being mentioned and have read conflicting views on it...too cold....harsh....but others swear by it regardless of mk1/2/3. I just want to make sure whatever I upgrade to retains and improves on the Sp5.

When was the remote option introduced? If it was optional does that mean the ir receiver was already part of circuitry and it was a matter of just buying the remote?
You should take a look at This database will give you a chronologic history of both the preamps and line stages that ARC made through the Ref 5.
Important Note:

If you plan to pair a tube preamp with a solid state amp, make sure the amp is designed to be paired with “tubed” gear. You’ll do this by checking the input impedance specs of the amp. If your solid state amp has a low input impedance, it likely will not “play well” (i.e.: sound like crap) with the tubed preamp typically designed with much higher input impedance
My amps input impedance is 47K, so thinking I should be ok.
The Sp5 output impedance is 10K and guessing by how nice it sounds I dont have any issues.

I have been looking at the ARC database but its not easy to tell which preamp trumps which previous model. Also hard to make a correlation between SP and LS they line up...which model was introduced before and after...that kind of thing.
I see an LS-3 on A'gon for $ this better than my SP5? I know it does not have phono, but for better sound I can forego phono for now.

Wish there was an overall rating of their preamp lineup based on user feedback but I guess its all subjective.
I had an LS3, but didn't compare it to other AR preamps. I did compare it to a Conrad Johnson (11?) and a Audible Illusions 3a and thought the CJ was too unfocused (bloomy) and the Audible Illusions 3a pumped dynamics beyond real. I chose the LS3, and would call it "clean" and solid. It replaced a Mark Levinson LS26, which I thought was dull and uninvolving. But it seems like the LS5 was the hot AR pre at the time...just never heard the LS5. My LS3 was going into a Classe CA300, to ML Quests. I liked the combo.
The SP-14 is a great preamp and an absolute bargain used. I have seen SP-14 preamps advertised for $1,000 on a regular basis. Caution! Do not buy a modified Audio Research preamp. I have not heard one yet that sounds as good as a properly working stock unit.

To find the Audio Research data base simply google arcdb.
Although th OP did ask for SS LS, it becamw readiky apparent the he really could not buy pure SS and wanted a Phono. It therefore surprises me that No one until me mentions the SP-6 series which are legendary. (I own a modded SP-6B of course,) but in truth never loved it. To the OP question the next incremental step up is obviously the almost SS SP-9, which was mentioned, but is a heckavalot closer than the 2 chasis "reference style" SP-11. If I were hom I would look around for other SS options that have a less severe style and richer overall sound or just man up and go tube. Lomg live the 6SN7!
i suggested the SP6 in my first reply.

For example, the ARC SP17 has a line stage input impedance of 60K, which would not be a great match with your solid state amp with an input impedance of only 47K.

Krell, for example, builds many of their amps with tubed pre-amps in mind - such as their 402e with a single ended input impedance of 100k and 200k for balanced.

I think the ARC Sp5 is a solid state...?

Anyway, be sure to consider this important factor...

I sure last purchase was not a pleasant one due to impedance so I now make a point of checking for it. Thx

Why are output impedance of some preamps so high ?

Anybody now about my question about remote control? I see in the arc database some models had remote as optional...does this mean the circuitry was already there or did it require rework?

I think I should be looking at an SP6/sp14 preamp in meantime.
I sure last purchase was not a pleasant one due to impedance so I now make a point of checking for it. Thx

Why are output impedance of some preamps so high ?

Anybody now about my question about remote control? I see in the arc database some models had remote as optional...does this mean the circuitry was already there or did it require rework?

I think I should be looking at an SP6/sp14 preamp in meantime.
If you plan on purchasing an SP-6 series make sure all the filter caps in the power supply have been replaced. In the A/B versions there are quite a few and they are not cheap. As long as they have been replaced in the past 8-10 yrs they still have useful life. If they are original, expect to replace them. In the B version you must replace them. That unit has many stages of regulation. If one cap fails and damages the regulator, it can take out all the other regulators. It is an expensive and difficult repair. I've had to do it many times.